What Programs A 10% Cut In Military Spending Could Buy

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Above photo: From WSWS.org.

NOTE: This week the US House of Representatives failed to pass an amendment to the military budget that would have cut it by 10 percent. Common Dreams reports:

“Anti-war groups vowed to keep fighting to slash the bloated Pentagon budget after the House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a proposal to cut U.S. military spending by 10% and invest the savings in housing, healthcare, and education in poor communities.

The final vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment sponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) was <span”>93-324, with 139 Democrats joining 185 Republicans in voting no. The failure of the Lee-Pocan amendment means the final version of the House NDAA will propose a $740.5 military budget for fiscal year 2021, a more than $2 billion increase from the previous year.

‘Ninety-three members of Congress stood together to oppose a bloated $740 billion defense budget,’ Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted following the vote. ‘Though our amendment didn’t pass, progressive power is stronger than ever. We will keep fighting for pro-peace, pro-people budgets until it becomes a reality.'”    – KZ

The United States devotes more money to its armed forces than the next 10 countries — combined.

For millions of Californians, times are tough, and the future looks tougher still. So far, California has seen over 325,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 7,000 deaths.

In the economic fallout, over 6 million of us have applied for unemployment insurance since the start of the pandemic. Many of them have yet to see a dime from the understaffed California Employment Development Department, which has struggled to keep up with the sheer volume of claims.

Meanwhile, a $600-per-week federal unemployment supplement is set to expire at the end of July, and the Republican-controlled Senate appears determined to let it expire rather than support a measure passed in the House of Representatives to extend it through January.

A look at the National Defense Authorization Act will shed some light on the kind of spending Congress may be quicker to approve, namely, over $740 billion in Pentagon spending this year. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it really, really is.

The United States spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined. For those wondering whether that kind of astronomical spending is somehow necessary for national security, it’s not.

In fact a recent report by the Costs of War initiative explains how the United States’ unique brand of commercialized militarism, in which more than half of U.S. military spending in 2019 went to private contractors, has significantly increased the cost of the country’s military operations.

Moreover, the endless wars supported by our massive military budget haven’t been making us safer. Despite spending over $5 trillion on war since 2001, global deaths from terrorism have increased, while social and economic forms of security such as a functioning health care system, pandemic preparedness and jobs programs have all gone underfunded.

Californians are paying a staggering price for this excessive military spending. According to the National Priorities Project, the average California taxpayer paid the federal government $4,267 for the military in 2018. That’s compared to averages of $1,247 on unemployment and labor programs, $609 for housing and community programs, and $398 for education.

Thankfully, some members of Congress have been organizing to prevent this egregious misallocation of resources and instead invest in the communities that need it most.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., are pushing for an amendment to the defense authorization act that would redirect 10 percent of the Pentagon budget to fund education, health care, child care and housing for communities facing poverty rates of 25% or higher. Over 60 national civil society organizations recently sent a letter to the Senate in support of this long-overdue realignment of our national spending priorities.

To get a sense of what those cuts in Pentagon spending could mean for California, consider this: 10 percent of the roughly $100 billion Californians spent on the military in 2019 could cover the cost of employing roughly two-thirds of the state’s elementary school teachers for a year, or the cost of low-income health care for 5.8 million children for a year.

The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment soon. If you think we should look after each other right now rather than throw more money into the dumpster fires of U.S. militarism, your senators need to hear from you.

Gabe Murphy is a writer and peace advocate with a master’s degree in global studies from UC Berkeley.

  • Bill Rood

    Yes, most Democrats voted against a 10% cut in military spending, much too small a cut, but it still should have been supported. A pox on both their houses. A vote for the lesser of evils is a vote for evil. Support the 3rd party of your choice in November be it Green, Libertarian, Constitutional or Socialist everywhere but San Francisco.

    This is Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic Party. Support Shahid Buttar’s effort to unseat her. Other than him, vote 3rd party. Anything else accelerates us into a totalitarian abyss.

  • Nylene13

    This was the final straw for me.

    Why would anyone vote Democrat when the majority of Democrats voted –
    WITH THE REPUBLICANS –
    against a measly 10 percent of the Military Budget going to programs for We the People?
    The Republicans and Democrats are ONE Party, United.

    The Republicrats.

    We now live in a Sparta State where the MILITARY RULES EVERYTHING.

    The only option I see, is for all Socialists and Environmentalist to organize, and all move to a few states. I suggest California and Oregon and Washington State.

  • IconoclastTwo

    Give me some time to work that out, but I’ll find it for you.

  • Nylene13

    Thank You!

  • IconoclastTwo

    Everything I say is being put automatically into pending.

  • Nylene13

    Thanks. Isn’t it interesting how difficult it is to find a SIMPLE listing of them.

    My My, what a strange COINCIDENCE.

  • Richard

    I don’t believe that they will cut military spending any more than schools will stop building multi million dollar stadiums and start focusing on educating our kids again. Third party is our only chance, but people in this country are so divided that not enough will support it. People have become their own worst enemies with their continued support of D & R and their own demise.

  • chetdude

    I just did the math – 10% of the entire bloated war machine’s budget (for ONE YEAR) would cover the $600 per week additional unemployment payment that the republicans and democrats are going to allow to expire for 347 weeks (nearly SEVEN YEARS)…

  • chetdude

    I’d rather kick the f*cking war machine OUT of my state…

  • chetdude

    That’s a very depressing list. Here’s a nicer one — those who voted to use the 10% for Life instead of death. (92 dems and one independent):

    Amash
    Barragán
    Bass
    Beatty
    Blumenauer
    Bonamici
    Cárdenas
    Castor (FL)
    Castro (TX)
    Chu, Judy
    Clark (MA)
    Clarke (NY)
    Clay
    Cleaver
    Cohen
    Davis, Danny K.
    DeFazio
    DeSaulnier
    Dingell
    Doggett
    Doyle, Michael F.
    Eshoo
    Espaillat
    Evans
    Frankel
    Fudge
    Gabbard
    García (IL)
    Gomez
    Green, Al (TX)
    Grijalva
    Hastings
    Hayes
    Heck
    Huffman
    Jackson Lee
    Jayapal
    Jeffries
    Johnson (GA)
    Johnson (TX)
    Keating
    Kelly (IL)
    Kennedy
    Khanna
    Kildee
    Lee (CA)
    Levin (MI)
    Lieu, Ted
    Lofgren
    Lowenthal
    Luján
    Lynch
    Maloney, Carolyn B.
    Matsui
    McGovern
    McNerney
    Meeks
    Meng
    Mfume
    Moore
    Nadler
    Napolitano
    Neal
    Neguse
    Ocasio-Cortez
    Omar
    Pallone
    Payne
    Pingree
    Pocan
    Porter
    Pressley
    Raskin
    Rush
    Sánchez
    Sarbanes
    Schakowsky
    Schiff
    Serrano
    Sherman
    Speier
    Takano
    Thompson (MS)
    Tlaib
    Tonko
    Trahan
    Vargas
    Velázquez
    Waters
    Watson Coleman
    Welch
    Wilson (FL)
    Yarmuth

  • Edward Winslow

    The hand full of the phony “progressives” like Sanders, Warren,et al knew damned well that their timid measure would never even pass the House, nevermind the ultra reactionary Senate.

    This charade was just another ploy to sheepdog those who still think the Democrats give a damn about them.

  • Nylene13

    Wish I had one in my state. Shame on Nevada.

  • zak1

    The article should have mentioned Hawkins/Walker’s Green Party proposal to cut military spending by 75 percent, and use the money to rebuild US communities and set up a Global Green New Deal